The last time Norwich City spent a season in the Premier League they made strangely little use of Wes Hoolahan – an oversight that almost cost them the player’s services and arguably did their top-flight status and Chris Hughton his job as manager. It’s a fair bet Alex Neil will not make the same mistake.
It’s ironic Bournemouth’s first real lesson in how hard Premier life may be came against a team they faced in the Championship. And it was Hoolahan, more than any other, who dished out that lesson.
The hyperactive Irishman ran the show, laid on the opening goal, scored the second and went off to a deserved ovation. And as Neil said: “He’s been fantastic for me. He’s a key figure. As long as he keeps working hard he’s in the team.”
For half an hour Bournemouth’s attempts to hit Norwich on the break were as fruitless as the hosts’ efforts to pick a way through the visitors’ defence. Then Hoolahan raised the tempo, skipping past Steve Cook before providing the cross for Cameron Jerome.
It might have been different had Robbie Brady not denied Junior Stanislas with a goal-saving tackle. And Bournemouth were inches from equalising when Callum Wilson hit a post from two yards. But that was about it from a team whose manager, Eddie Howe, confessed he was “hugely disappointed”.
Seven minutes into the second half the Hoolahan-Jerome combination broke through again, Hoolahan firing City’s second from the edge of the penalty area.
In the 64th minute Matt Jarvis, enjoying a high-energy debut, struck the post. Three minutes later he curled in with his left foot the goal that ended all semblance of a contest. Cook’s header merely raised questions about Norwich’s defending of a simple corner.
Norwich City: (4-4-1-1) Ruddy; Wisdom, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Howson, Tettey, Jarvis (Olsson, 73); Hoolahan (Dorrans, 73); Jerome (Mbokani, 82).
Bournemouth: (4-4-1-1) Boruc; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Smith; Ritchie, O’Kane (Gosling, 72), Surman, King (Kermorgant, 56); Stanislas (Murray, 56); Wilson.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Hoolahan (Norwich City)
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content